San Francisco 49ers to debut state-of-the-art Levi's Stadium (w/video)

  • Scott Paul of San Jose tests out the seats during a tour of the new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.

Resembling sun-bleached bones of a colossal whale, the white steel ribs of Levi’s Stadium jut 200 feet skyward from the sidewalk on Tasman Street in Santa Clara, where the San Francisco 49ers will kick off their first home game at 1 p.m. Sunday.

The $1.3 billion house that Jed York built in the heart of Silicon Valley, three blocks from networking giant Cisco Systems headquarters, is 38 miles south of the football team’s aged and abandoned facility, Candlestick Park, on an isolated, windswept point on San Francisco Bay.

What’s inside the new 1.85 million-square-foot football palace —more than five times the size of the Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park — is light years apart from Candlestick, the 54-year-old stadium where the 49ers played ball from 1971 through last year.

Levi's Stadium Tour


With a national Monday Night Football television audience tuned in Dec. 19, 2011, Candlestick suffered two power failures, the second one creating a 30-minute game delay and dimming The City’s image.

Brightening Levi’s Stadium will be a mix of LED and conventional lights, twin scoreboards that total more than 19,000 square feet and 1,162 solar panels generating 515,000 kilowatts of electricity a year, enough to power the Niners’ 10 home games and qualify them as a “net neutral” team.

The new sports and entertainment emporium, already a major Bay Area visitor attraction with a museum and daily tours open to the public, is digitally super-wired; sustainable, with a climate-moderating “green roof” and use of 85 percent recycled water, and gastronomically hip with a spate of vegan and vegetarian offerings, international foods and standards like burgers, oven-fired pizza and nachos.

More than 400 miles of data cable run through the stadium, including 70 miles serving 1,200 Wi-Fi antennas that put every one of the 68,500 seats within 10 feet of a Wi-Fi signal box. Internet bandwidth is 40 gigabytes per second, 40 times more than any known U.S. stadium, the 49ers say.

“I was impressed,” said Kevin Hughes, a former Rohnert Park resident who toured the stadium Thursday with his wife, Pam. “I had a full set of reception bars on my phone,” said Hughes, who used to work in Silicon Valley and now lives near Pomona.

Eyeballing the ground layout from atop the stadium’s Suite Tower, Hughes said he was pleased to see three wide bridges from the parking lots, a big improvement over Candlestick’s lone bridge, a crowd choke point.

Pam Hughes endorsed the Levi’s Stadium mobile app that helps people find their way around the place as well as order food from their seats for express pick-up at a concession stand or in-seat delivery.

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